Whites Gentlemen’s Clubs is free before 8pm, after which customers are required to pay a nominal entrance fee. The cover charge is actually a blessing since there’s none of the hustling that happens in the pound-in-a-pint-glass places, allowing space and time to practice a little uninterrupted voyeurism. Of course, while there is no pressure to have a private dance, there is, ouch, plenty of temptation.
The club is halfway between Tower Gateway and Aldgate East tubes or a short ride in a black cab from Liverpool Street if the Hammersmith and City or District lines are playing up. The pavement outside the venue has been treated to its own carpet and there is the traditional velvet rope to be unclipped by a physically daunting but surprisingly warm and witty doorman. The main room is painted black and lit with neon, with a long bar running down the right-hand side of the room. The bar has girls in assorted coloured bikinis and Lucite heels standing along its length, chatting amiably with men in shirt sleeves. The club is only a stone's throw from the financial district and its clientele are smartly attired, albeit with loosened ties for a Friday night.
There is a row of four booths opposite the bar in the main room, accessed through a set of heavy drapes. This is where girls lead customers by the hand to give them a preview of what happens in the champagne suite and private rooms. Prices are standard for a ten minute dance, although there is a discount for cash payment. The champagne suite is the least expensive, perhaps because more than one girl can bring a customer in here and that means limited privacy. Note the careful choice of words, 'least expensive': half an hour is around £200 and an hour is about half as much again. Whites is on the outskirts of the financial district, remember?
City chaps celebrating a bonus can upgrade to one of Whites' private rooms. The first is a reproduction of a 1940s school room (give us strength), complete with period wooden desk, blackboard and school bell. Next door's replica of a 1960s cabinet office was inspired by the Profumo Affair. It has a director's chair and desk with an ivory telephone and a typewriter. There is a picture of the Queen hanging over a leather Chesterfield sofa. Both these rooms are ideal for role play and both cost over £300 for 30 minutes and just under double that for an hour. There is no discount for paying with cash in any of the private rooms.
The next rung on this ladder of decadence is the 'Moulin Rouge'. Its centrepiece is a huge velvet-upholstered seat with heart-shaped surround and enough cushions to disappear beneath forever. The room feels authentically opulent with its antiques, black velvet drapes and gold leaf chaise longue. The only thing missing is a green fairy. This room is just under £400 for half an hour and a little over half again for the hour. VPs, premier league players and mobsters will appreciate the cachet of hiring the Tiger Room. With leopard print and gold lamé as far as the eye can see, it pokes light-hearted fun at the lap-dancing clubs of the 1980s. The room is essentially a club within a club, with its own pole and a mini bar with retro optics that customers can use to serve themselves. It's just under a monkey for 30 minutes and about half again for the hour. All prices listed are per girl, per allotted time-period. There are stories of the Tiger room being filled with five girls at once. Mere mortals, start saving.
One of the twins who own the club explains Whites’ philosophy: “we did our research and we work hard to give people what they want; we want people to be relaxed as soon as they step through the door; nobody gets told where to sit, nobody is governed.” It does seem relaxed. Well-dressed older couples (who have come together) sit on leather sofas beneath a huge Swarovski chandelier, obviously happy to just watch goings-on and murmur in each other's ears. Apparently this is the norm, with people treating Whites as a night out, not a strip bar. In fact, a certain home-grown, female X-factor judge is rumoured to love the place and even to have developed a soft spot for the bar manager.
Talking with one of the dancers/hostesses, she genuinely seems to enjoy her job. She chats away about the commute she shares to and from Wiltshire with a couple of the other girls and confesses it's just as likely for one of them to develop a crush as it is vice-versa. She is, needless to say, gorgeous – a well-appointed brunette with a gift for putting people at their ease and making them feel like a high-roller, even if it's for one night only.
The management team has obviously put thought into the finer detail. The 'house pour' is Lanson White Label (of course), which is slightly sweeter to allow for the addition of fresh fruit. Lanson still provides champagne to the Royal Family and the owner is particularly proud of the crest on the leather-bound menus, and of the Maltese cross, part of Lanson's branding, incorporated into four specially commissioned artworks hanging on the wall. Prices listed include the undivided attention of one of the girls and a bottle of Lanson White Label or equivalent shots/cocktails.
The Last Word
This is a laid-back but quality establishment with friendly management and bar staff and some lovely, unpretentious girls. It is priced sensibly to let everyone, from pauper to prince, enjoy a night to remember.